By: Victoria Scarborough, Project HEAL Guest Blogger
A common misconception people have about eating disorders is that the stem of the issue comes from an overwhelming desire to be thin and nothing else. However, as a recovering bulimic, I can attest to the fact that an eating disorder, much like other forms of addiction, is the manifestation of something much deeper than simply vanity. Sufferers of eating disorders use food as a way to control the chaos of everyday existence. An eating disorder is merely a shield, preventing the individual from feelings they would rather avoid than confront, because let’s face it—coming face to face with one’s darkest demons is not an easy thing to do.
As I began my journey down the long and twisted road to recovery, I learned a lot about myself and my own emotions. Through therapy, I had to re-learn how to feel everything. The walls that I had built up around myself were so thick that I didn’t even know what feeling was anymore. When I started to crack those metaphorical walls, the flood of pent up emotions that came pouring through was overwhelming and intense. Often, the emotion that bubbled to the surface was anger, coating everything like an oil spill.
Anger is considered by some to be a primary emotion—an initial, instantaneous reaction to some sort of emotional cue. In my experience, and I feel that many other individuals in recovery would agree, anger is nearly always a secondary response to another more difficult feeling, like sadness, guilt, jealousy or fear. It is much easier to be angry than it is to be sad, but at the end of the day, the anger must still be accepted, analyzed, and broken down into its basic components so the healing process may truly begin.
I’m not saying that anger isn’t a necessary emotion to the human form, because each individual feeling has its time and place, but in recovery every feeling needs to be felt and re-evaluated. Anger has the potential to be destructive and harmful to self and others. My own anger hindered me in my path until I learned to accept it as a fleeting moment in time and wave towards it lovingly as it passed me by. Not only did I re-learn how to feel, I learned how to let go. Once I accepted the uncontrollable as a beautiful part of this crazy life, everything became far easier, and ever so slowly the more difficult emotions like fear and guilt (which showed up as anger) transformed into the happiness and love I have for my life now. Recovery is hard, but it is worth it.